January 31, 2017
I was 6 years old watching "Return of the Jedi" in the theater, and all too well I remember the collective *gasp* of the crowd when Yoda did indeed confirm that Darth Vader is who he was. It was a sublime moment. Those my age may have forgotten how much buzz and excitement surrounded the OT when this film first came out - there was definitely a lot of magic to behold in this presentation. And you can dare guess how the final lightsaber fight, with those choral background voices, affected this young American kid. Star Wars has been an undeniable part of my mythology since then.
Alas, time was not kind to ROTJ. Watching it years later the magic moments are still there, but the shock of the "new" has worn and the flaws become undeniably present and irritating. I have been on the lookout for a good fanedit for years now, and this is the one that's my current go-to.
Adywan currently has captured my imagination as to what the art of fanediting is, and what it can be. He is currently out to tackle this movie for his next project, which I will happily wait years for, if necessary. In the meantime, darthrush's edit will do you better than anyone could hope for. I made my own attempt at ROTJ and was mildly pleased, but this one handles itself gracefully.
The bad is essentially gone. I couldn't be happier with the Endor battle, the lack of Ewoks in general, the silliness of Jabba's palace toned down, the deletion of the uber-corny moments between Han and Lando or Han and Leia or Han and the Ewoks or Han and his jealous alter-ego (poor Harrison, no wonder he wanted to get out of this series). The final half-hour of the film has a real dynamic sense of story flow, and I couldn't be happier with how the elimination of the Ewok "noble savage" element actually makes perfect sense in light of the fact that Han hadn't yet blown up the generator. They totally SHOULD be losing.
No speeder-bike-Ewok nonsense. No "Jedi Rocks". No screaming, tortured droids. No bad matte shots of the Falcon. No Leia sharing rice cakes with teddy bears. Trimmed 3PO story-ridiculousness. No Chewie tarzan scream. No "I love you" during the big battle. No Hayden ghost. No yub yub....man, the more I think about how much CORN was in ROTJ, the more you see....and now it's gone!
That said, we could have lost Jabba's little pet-dude (made him disappear almost entirely from my fanedit), or maybe even more Ewok-whatever. There are a few roll-your-eyes moments left in. Still, it's hard when you're dealing with ROTJ....Star Wars has always had an amazing sense of humor when it's good.....but when it's bad, it REALLY IS BAD. There is also a "hurried" feel to the film.....I can't even now remember if that element existed in the original. It's slight, maybe a necessary evil of the fanedit.
I'll for now match this one up with both Adywan edits as my OT trilogy. This edit has read my mind in a great many ways, and has salvaged what really isn't a great film on par with ANH and ESB. The magic of Star Wars permeates this film throughout, however....some of that is probably nostalgia (people DID cry in the theater when Yoda "sleeps"), and some of it is this film's determination to see its own mythology through to the end. Maybe it would have been great if it was Kashyyyk and David Lynch was at the helm. But hey, we got what we got, and we care enough about what we DO have that we even bother with any of this at all.
Bravo, darthrush. Thanks for the experience!